The VitaFEM report examines 20 genes which impact female health through all stages from estrogen production, activation, and detoxification to heart and bone health.
Estrogen is one of two major female steroidal sex hormones, the other being progesterone. The main source of estrogen in females prior to menopause is the ovaries, after which the main source becomes the adrenal glands and fat tissue. Oestrogen is also produced by the placenta during pregnancy. Estrogen levels fluctuate throughout life, naturally increasing during puberty and pregnancy, and falling after menopause. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels peak during ovulation dropping off if pregnancy doesn’t occur.
The main roles of estrogen in the body are to increase the growth and production of cells, the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics - breasts, pubic hair etc. Oestrogen is also involved in maintaining bone density, plays a role in blood clotting and affects skin, hair, mucous membranes, and the pelvic muscles.
The body produces 3 different types of estrogen:
E1 - Etrone: medium strength, predominant after menopause (adrenal glands)
E2 - Estradiol: strongest form, predominant during childbearing age (ovaries & adrenal glands)
E3 - Estriol: weakest form, predominant during pregnancy (placenta & liver)
DNA is your body’s instruction manual, controlling every single function from when you were only made up of a few cells, until now. It looks like a twisted ladder, made up of two halves - you inherit one half from your mother, the other from your father. This combination is what makes you, you.
Each ‘rung’ of the ladder contains two ‘letters’ of DNA code called nucleotides which bond together in pairs: A (adenine) and T (thymine) bond together, as do C (cytosine) and G (guanine).
Genes are portions of the ladder which use combinations of the nucleotide code to perform specific functions.
Over time, due to environmental and lifestyle factors, minor changes called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) occur in the DNA code and are passed down from parent to child, from generation to generation. Remember the nucleotides? Well, a C might be replaced by a T, changing the instructions given to a gene.
Some changes are positive, making us stronger and more resilient (like being able to digest milk after infancy), some negative (like being likely to store more fat as a result of past famine or food shortage) and some make no difference at all. SNPs can be passed down on just one side of your ladder, from one parent, or from both, enhancing the effect.
SNPs are generally what we are looking for when we test your DNA.